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July 20, 2010

Facing Your Nemesis

nem·e·sis [nem-uh-sis]–noun, plural -ses

is an unconquerable opponent or rival (Webster’s Universal College

Dictionary, 1997)

At some point in our lives, we must face up to the hand we are dealt, or we wither. In the case of parents with a child (or children) with special needs, how do we face up to our challenges? My Nemesis introduced himself when our son was born ten weeks early and, soon after, my husband and I were confronted with his diagnosis of autism. I felt trapped in a boiler that was ready to explode. I panicked and became deeply depressed. But, into that slippery, deep, dark drum that I was living in, finally, came some light. With the initial help from a few close friends, I managed to pull myself out.

As parents, where do we go, and how do we begin? Bewildered?

Step 1: Accept the Constant Invasion of Change

I realized that the influx of emotional and physical instability in our lives would become a constant. The overwhelming fright was endless when I struggled to decipher the right thing to do regarding treatments, therapies, medicines, or even things we take for granted, like making sure your child is able to breathe. Acceptance of change allowed me to surf the relentless unstable waves to shore.

Once I realized the need to accept the constant instability of our lives, there was no looking back. Only panic once and don’t look back.

Step 2: Make a Change You CAN Control

Commit to a positive change you can make for your child. Whether the change that you accomplish is a mental move or a physical one… make it stick.

I was fortunate to be able to effect both mental and physical changes in our lives. They had to be locked in my mind and committed to my heart before I could continue.

The services our son required could only be attained by moving to an area where commuting to therapies and treatments was possible. We don’t plan to make another move until he finishes high school.

This physical move brought my anger slowly closer to shore. Making this change, helped me to better prepare mentally for more assaults to my heart and mind, from unforeseeable challenges to come.

Step 3: Persevere

My child’s entire being depended solely on whatever I decided to do.  I made up my mind to begin making my own changes to address my son’s evolving condition instead of  just reacting to his daily crises.  The changes I initiated brought me more anxiety initially, and many moments where I felt like I was being taken away from shore by riptides.

Naturally, the Devil of Negative Change tried to weave its way back into our life.

However, we persevered, believing that we would and did see positive changes in our struggling child.

Step 4: Maintain Active Participation

This is where we are today. I have made so many changes that the Devil of Change has gone into hiding (I’m sure, until another exhaustingly weak moment in our future). If the Devil reemerges, we know the embedded path of making our own changes instead of dying in that deep, dark drum without a glimmer of hope.

I know the love I have for my son, who is now eleven, is far more powerful than the challenges ahead. Even with his progress, life continues to present many challenges, daily. I keep that Nemesis in check and in bounds. I don’t give up, I accept my Nemesis will never die. Knowledge is helpful but active participation is what effects positive change.

Here is my message: Keep the hope alive. Train your mind and body, to be, and stay, strong. Persevere with your own changes knowing that exhausting challenges will be staring you down again and again. The challenges you deal with will yield the outcome of your effort.

Face your challenge – face your Nemesis.  You can do it!

See you next month.

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